South Africa 17.11.2017 07:00 am

Big jobs boost for rural communities

A woman pushes a wheelbarrow with water containers from a distribution point in the
rural farming town of Senekal in the Free State. Picture: EPA

A woman pushes a wheelbarrow with water containers from a distribution point in the rural farming town of Senekal in the Free State. Picture: EPA

Deputy President Ramaphosa will today launch ambitious project.

A total of 26 million people in rural communities under the control of traditional leaders nationwide stand to benefit in terms of jobs and economic empowerment in a firstof-its-kind rural development scheme.

The scheme, done in conjunction with the National Council of Traditional Leaders, is aimed at bringing the rural masses into the mainstream of the economy, in line with the government’s rural development policy.

The ambitious project would be driven by a new investment entity, United Royal Kingship Holdings (URK), which would be launched by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa in Johannesburg today.

A total of 829 traditional leaders will attend on behalf of their subjects.

The new entity is wholly owned by the seven official kingdoms of South Africa.

The kings would be central in the running of the project, which has been punted to provide jobs to the poor rural people and empower them to run their own small enterprises.

As the government has been talking about rural development for a long time, this initiative appears to be the first real scheme that has the potential to provide self-employment for the rural people on their doorsteps.

It is part of the government’s call for improved working relationships between the traditional leaders and the government.

According to URK CEO Groovin Nchabeleng, the company is a step closer to opening economic opportunities and activity for people in rural and semi-urban areas who had historically been excluded.

He said the initiative was born out of the need to create a vehicle for rural people to participate in the mainstream economy.

Nchabeleng told The Citizen yesterday that the communities would benefit through URK investment portfolio that included financial services, agriculture, agro-processing, mining, infrastructure development, tourism, health, manufacturing and retail.

“A couple of announcements will be made before the end of the year, particularly in the financial, property and agro-processing fields,” Nchabeleng said.

The land owned by the rural communities under the control of traditional leaders has been identified for utilisation in various agricultural and agro-processing areas where people would benefit economically – for jobs and SMEs.

URK chairperson Chief Sipho Mahlangu, who chairs the National Traditional leaders’ house, highlighted accountability and proper governance as areas that would be critical factors in the new organisation.

He said financial activities of the entity would be undertaken by leading audit firm PriceWaterHouse Coopers.

“This is a first of its kind, it has never been done before. It is a game-changer; it is economic inclusiveness in practice,” Nchabeleng said. Ramaphosa is expected to address the gathering at The Venue in Melrose Arch, Johannesburg, from 11am today.

– ericn@citizen.co.za

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